Terms of Engagement
The lawyer-client relationship is one of mutual trust and respect and it is important that you (the client) and we (your legal advisers) each know and understand clearly what will be expected of us and the duties, rights and responsibilities upon which our relationship will be based.
Letter of Engagement
We will provide you with a letter of engagement for all services to be provided, which will set out the work to be undertaken, who is to carry them out and an estimate of what they will cost.
Standard Terms of Engagement
These Standard Terms of Engagement ("Terms") apply in respect of all work carried out by us for you, except to the extent that we otherwise agree with you in writing.
1.1 The services we are to provide for you are outlined in our engagement letter.
a. The fees we will charge or the manner in which they will be arrived at, are set out in our engagement letter.
b. If the engagement letter specifies a fixed fee, we will charge this for the agreed scope of our services. Work which falls outside that scope will be charged on an hourly rate basis. We will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable if it becomes necessary for us to provide services outside the agreed scope and, if requested, give you an estimate of the likely amount of the further costs.
c. Where our fees are calculated on an hourly basis, the hourly rates are set out in our engagement letter. The differences in those rates reflect the experience and specialisation of our professional staff.
2.2 Disbursements and expenses: In providing services we may incur disbursements or have to make payments to third parties on your behalf. These will be included in our invoice to you when the expense is incurred. We may require an advance payment for the disbursements or expenses which we will be incurring on your behalf.
2.3 Office Expenses Fee: In addition to disbursements, we may charge a fee of between $25.00 and $75.00 to cover out of pocket costs which are not included in our fee and which are not recorded as disbursements. These include items such as photocopying and printing, postage and phone calls.
2.4 GST (if any): Is payable by you on our fees and charges.
2.5 Invoices: If the matter is a conveyancing transaction, we will submit our invoice to you prior to settlement of the transaction and expect it to be paid on settlement. Otherwise, we will send and invoice to you on completion of the matter or on termination of our engagement. We may also send you interim invoices, usually monthly, or when we incur a significant expense.
2.6 Payment: Invoices for conveyancing transactions are to be paid at settlement. All other invoices are payable within 7 days of the date of the invoice, unless alternative arrangements have been made with us. We may require interest to be paid on any amount which is more than 7 days overdue. Interest will be calculated at the rate of 5% above our firm's main trading bank's rate for an unsecured overdraft facility as at the close of business on the date payment became due.
2.7 Security: We may ask you to pre-pay amounts to us, or to provide security for our fees and expenses. You authorise us:
a. to debit against amounts pre-paid by you; and
b. to deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
2.8 Third Parties: Although you may expect to be reimbursed by a third party for our fees and expenses, and although our invoices may at your request or with your approval be directed to a third party, nevertheless you remain responsible for payment to us if the third party fails to pay us.
3.1 We will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that we acquire during the course of acting for you. We will not disclose any of this information to any other person except:
a to the extent necessary or desirable to enable us to carry out your instructions; or
b to the extent required by law or by the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
3.2 Confidential information concerning you will as far as practicable be made available only to those within our firm who are providing legal services for you.
3.3 We will of course, not disclose to you confidential information which we have in relation to any other client.
4.1 You may terminate our retainer at any time.
4.2 We may terminate our retainer in any of the circumstances set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers
4.3 If our retainer is terminated you must pay us all fees due up to the date of termination and all expenses incurred up to that date.
5 Retention of Files and Documents
5.1 You authorise us (without further reference to you) to destroy all files and documents for this matter (including any documents that we hold in safe custody for you that we consider are no longer necessary to be held by us) 7 years after our engagement ends, or earlier if we have converted those files or documents to an electronic format.
6 Conflicts of Interest
6.1 We have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises we will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
7 Duty of Care
7.1 Our duty of care is to you and not to any other person. Before any other person may rely on our advice, we must expressly agree to this.
8 Trust Account
8.1 We maintain a trust account for all funds which we receive from clients. If we are holding significant funds on your behalf for sufficiently long enough to generate a meaningful return for you, we will normally lodge those funds on interest bearing deposit with the ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited, which holds our trust account. In that case, we will charge an administration fee of $150.00 plus GST and a commission equal to 10 % of the gross interest derived.
9.1 These Terms apply to any current engagement and also to any future engagement, whether or not we send you another copy of them.
9.2 We are entitled to change these Terms from time to time, in which case we will send you amended Terms.
9.3 Our relationship with you is governed by New Zealand law and New Zealand courts have non-exclusive jurisdiction.
Information for Clients
Set out below is the information required by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers of the New Zealand Law Society ("Law Society").
The basis on which fees will be charged is set out in our letter of engagement. When payment of fees is to be made is set out in our Standard Terms of Engagement.
We may deduct from any funds held on your behalf in our trust account any fees, expenses or disbursements for which we have provided an invoice.
2. Professional Indemnity Insurance
We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. We will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
3. Lawyers' Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000. Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.
We maintain a procedure for handling any complaints by clients, designed to ensure that a complaint is dealt with promptly and fairly.
If you have a complaint about our services or charges, you may refer your complaint to the person handling the matter on behalf of our firm.
If you have any concerns or complaints that you prefer not to raise with that person, please contact Bill Brierley personally. We are committed to resolving any issues as soon as possible.
Bill may be contacted as follows:
• by letter to PO Box 7196, Wellington, 6242;
• by email at email@example.com;
• by telephone on 389 2571.
You can also contact the N Z Law Society's Lawyers' Complaints Service at 26 Waring Taylor Street, P O Box 5041, Wellington, 6145, tel: 0800 261 801, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Persons Responsible for the Work
The names and status of the person or persons who will have the general carriage of or overall responsibility for the services we provide for you are set out in our letter of engagement.
6. Client Care and Service
The Law Society client care and service information is set out below.
Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:
• Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
• Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
• Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
• Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
• Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
• Give you clear information and advice.
• Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
• Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
• Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
• Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 04 472 7837.
7. Limitations on extent of our Obligations or Liability
Any limitations on the extent of our obligations to you or any limitation or exclusion of liability are set out in our letter of engagement.